With 2010 and New Years resolutions just around the corner, Tiger Woods isn’t the only person that should be reviewing his disaster recovery strategy (see related New York Times article, Woods Is Silent as Spin Takes On Life of Its Own). Recently, I’ve met with several SAP BusinessObjects customers and am concerned about the verbal responses (and corresponding facial gestures) that I get when I ask about disaster recovery and business continuity.
Let’s review the basics. Unlike “classic” BusinessObjects, which only required the backup of a single repository database backup, starting with the XI R1 platform (and continuing up through BI 4.0/4.1) has multiple components that require backup: the system database (also known as the CMS database), an optional audit database, and two file stores managed by the Input File Repository Server (iFRS) and Output File Repository Server (oFRS).
Similar to the “classic” (pre-XI) BusinessObjects repository database, the system database in XI (sometimes referred to as the CMS database) stores metadata about users and groups, folders, reports, and universes. However, unlike “classic” BusinessObjects, reports and universes are no longer stored as BLOBs in a relational database. Instead, the relational database contains pointers to report and universe files that reside on the iFRS and oFRS. The iFRS and oFRS are file system directory structures. A proper backup will atomically (at the same time) perform a system database backup with a full backup of the input and output file repository server directories. All three items should be treated as a single entity, during a period of system inactivity. If the database backup and the file system backup occur at different times, a restored system from these backups may not have all of the required information. If your organization is using the auditing feature, the auditing database should be included in the backup and restore process. However, even though it is important, the audit database it is not critical to system operation.
I frequently hear that organizations do not view their BI systems as “business critical” and therefore not subject to the same scrutiny as other IT systems in the enterprise. But in addition to taking proper backups, it is imperative to test the restoration process. To test the backup, restore the system database and two file stores on an isolated server and confirm that the recovered environment is viable.
There are some additional nuances here that I haven’t included for sake of brevity. But I hope that you’ll take the time to review your business continuity plans while updating your personal career goals for 2010. And be careful when parking your Cadillac Escalade.